General Writing and Grammar Help/'Shall' and 'will'


QUESTION: 'Accidents will happen'
'Such guys as he will fight for their rights'

I suppose, these sentences are conditioned, to say generally, by the arrangement of the world, but who/what does determine conditions in the following sentnces (if they are correct)?

'Accidents shall happen'
'Such guys as he shall fight for their rights'

Thank you in advance.

ANSWER: Hello Nikolay

The differences between 'shal' and 'will' are very subtle.

'Shall' means that there is an element of compulsion - that some force is making an action necessary.

"You SHALL go to the ball" - means "We are going to make sure that you attend the dance"

'Will' means that there is an intention to perform an action.

"I will go to France next week" means I intend to travel to France next week.

Hope that helps.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Roy,

Thank you for your answer.

I think, the difference between 'shall' and 'will' can be noticeable, and both of the modals can express compulsion, e.g. if I heard 'you shall do it' I would think, the speaker intends to undertake some actions which will make me do it (like in your example with a ball) but if I heard 'you will do it' I would think, in my life there is something that will make me do it.

But the question I put relates to the use of 'shall' and 'will' in general statemnts (and also it relates to the right British English, not to the simplfied American one). The sense of 'Accidents will happen' is fair - in such cases the Nature sets laws or rules. The sense of 'The Company shall oblidge...' is fair as well, here the heads of the company set rules. But the sense of the opposite expressios is escaping from my comprehension - who could make such a general statement as 'Accidents shall happen' or 'Such guys as he shall fight for their rights' - only God itself or any person who, for example, shares this opinion? And what is the meaning(s) of 'The Company will oblidge...'?

No native English speaker would say "Accidents shall happen"

They might say "Accidents will happen"

In other words "Accidents do tend to occur"

"The company will oblige ..." means "The company has a set of rules which compel you to [do something]"  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

Past/Present Clients
Amber TV Anglia Polytechnic University Bath Spa University College The Beattie Partnership Blackpool & the Fylde College Bolton, Salford, & Trafford NHS Cedar Health Central Manchester Health Trust City College Manchester Coventry University David Rigby Associates East Lancs NHS Food Standards Agency Graduate Research Institute Granada Studios Higher Education Funding Council Hyde Clarendon College Kellogg’s UK Kingsmill Health Trust Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Liverpool University Manchester Airport Manchester City Council Manchester Metropolitan University MANCAT Manchester PCT (NHS) Manchester TEC North East Lancs PCT NorthWest Learning Grid Oldham Business School Open University Parrs Wood College Runshaw College Salford Mental Health Trust Save the Children Fund South Manchester Health Trust St John Rigby College St Mary’s Catholic High School SwimTime University of Bolton University of Central Lancs University College Chester University of Huddersfield University of Hull University of Manchester University of Salford West London Health Trust Winstanley College Manchester NHS Xaverian College

©2017 All rights reserved.